Every year, the Texas Department of Public Safety issues its “Texas Gang Threat Assessment.” It’s kind of a “State of the Gangs” address based on law enforcement intel. The assessment ranks Puro Tango Blast is the dominant gang in the state, followed by the Texas Syndicate, Texas Mexican Mafia, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Latin Kings. The Bloods, Crips, Aryan Brotherhood and Surenos are also in the mix. The biggest danger that law enforcement sees decreased tensions between rivals turning into cooperation and the accessibility of Mexican cartels.
The full Texas Gang Threat Assessment can be read here. The following are its key findings. Oddly enough, the biker gangs responsible for the biggest gang massacre of this generation are absent:
- Gangs continue to represent a significant public safety threat to Texas due to their propensity for violence and heightened level of criminal activity. Of the incarcerated gang members within Texas Department of Criminal Justice prisons, over 60 percent are serving a sentence for violent crimes, including robbery (24 percent), homicide (16 percent), and assault/terroristic threat (15 percent). We assess there are likely more than 100,000 gang members in Texas.
- The Tier 1 gangs in Texas for 2015 are Tango Blast and Tango cliques (estimated 15,000 members), Texas Syndicate (estimated 3,400 members), Texas Mexican Mafia (estimated 4,700 members), Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) (estimated 800 members), and Latin Kings (estimated 2,100 members). These groups pose the greatest gang threat to Texas due to their relationships with Mexican cartels, high levels of transnational criminal activity, level of violence, and overall statewide presence.
- Gangs in Texas remain active in both human smuggling and human trafficking operations. Gangmembers associated with human smuggling have direct relationships with alien smugglingorganizations (ASOs) and Mexican cartels. These organizations were involved in and profitedfrom the recent influx of illegal aliens crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley in 2014.Gang members involved in human trafficking, including commercial sex trafficking andcompelling prostitution of adults and minors, exploit their victims through force, fraud orcoercion, including recruiting and grooming them with false promises of affection, employment,or a better life. Gangs identified as being involved in human trafficking in Texas in 2014 include Tango Blast, Texas Syndicate, Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, and MS-13.
- Mexican cartels regularly use Texas gangs for the purposes of illicit cross-border smuggling.Members of Tier 1, Tier 2, and other gangs are sometimes recruited and tasked by cartels tocarry out acts of violence in both Texas and Mexico. The relationships between certain gangs and cartels fluctuate based on cartel structures and cell alignments, gang alignment with specific cartels, threats or coercion, and familial ties.
- Traditional rivalries between gangs continue to diminish as members take advantage of opportunities to collaborate and achieve common criminal objectives, typically for financial gain.Members of gangs such as the Bloods, Texas Syndicate, and Texas Mexican Mafia are workingtogether to smuggle and sell drugs and weapons, among other crimes. In addition, law enforcement continues to observe gang members with hybrid memberships, where gang members claim multiple affiliations, which presents challenges in identifying and investigating gang activity.